Everhart Museum Welcomes the Dead

Everhart Museum advertises Day of the Dead with this postcard. Photo Credit: everhart-museum.org.

By Maggie Mineo
Staff Writer

Vivid colors, flamboyant decoration, and an all-out celebration is hardly what we envision when we think of death. However, the people of Latino cultures have a very different perspective on what death and the afterlife mean to their lives and their spirituality. This month, The Everhart Museum proudly showcases their new exhibit, Day of the Dead: Art and Culture in the Americas. This exploration of art, history and tradition brings forth the essence and beauty of this sacred celebration honoring those who have gone before us.

For those unfamiliar with this holiday: “El Dia de los Muertos” is a festivity where the living invite spirits of their loved ones back to celebrate with them here on earth. This celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd. Many of us confuse this celebration with the modern holiday Halloween – a time where spirits are uninvited back to the land of the living to haunt, curse and cause mischief.

On opening night, the museum hosted a public reception where guests enjoyed a spread of quesadillas, taquitos, sangria and other Mexican favorites, while a traditional Mariachi band played in the background. Guests were then lead upstairs to the Maslow Gallery to see and experience the new exhibit while curator, Nezka Piefier, gave a brief presentation on the pieces and the meaning of “El Dia de los Muertos.”

The exhibit features many eye-catching and emotional pieces of contemporary and folk art with Pre-Columbian objects from the Everhart’s permanent collection; several skull and animal masks; quilts and paintings depicting common “Day of the Dead” themes and symbols; photography by various artists which portray Latin Americans celebrating this day around the world; and beautiful portrayals of “ophrendas” –which are built to act as altars– adorned with marigolds, skulls and keepsakes in memory of the deceased. Onlookers can even see an ophrenda dedicated to Dr. Isaiah Everhart himself.

“I think that the exhibit outlines the development of the Day of the Dead celebration from ancient cultures to contemporary times, thereby making it relevant for anyone living in a community where there are growing numbers of Latino immigrants,” said Ms. Piefier.

When asked why younger people should check it out she said, “It’s so fun and colorful, I have no doubt that everyone, regardless of age, can find something that interests them.”

If that’s not reason enough to get you and your friends to the museum, go support fellow Marywood student Katie Campbell, who helped prepare the exhibit and graduate student Jen Mineo, who is the curatorial assistant at the museum.

Artists featured in the exhibit include: Sherry Boram, Geraldine Congdon, Mark Cohen, Mike Egan, Eros Hoagland, Deb Lacativa, Janice Paine-Dawes, Michael Robinson-Chavez, Rolfe Ross, Meena Schaldenbrand, Mary Louise Smith, Balam Soto, Les Stone, Hector Tellez, Annette Weintraub and Theresa A. Ybanez.